two hotels: one reaches up, one reaches out



A tale of two cities: On one end, Shanghai, who’s ready to step out of Beijing’s architectural shadow with some record-breaking structures of its own. The showcase: the completion, after 14 (!) years, of the Shanghai World Financial Center — standing at 1,600 feet as the tallest building in China and the third tallest in the world. The Park Hyatt Shanghai has taken up shop in the 79th through 93rd floors of the 101-story skyscraper, just in time to welcome fans eager for another Roger/Rafa bout at the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup.

And down South, on Brazil’s Emerald Coast, the Ponta Dos Ganchos Resort is debuting five luxury seafront bungalows via an auction to benefit Instituto Guga Kuerten. The four new Emerald Villa Bungalows (2,455 sq. ft.) and one Special Emerald Villa Bungalow (3,210 sq. ft.), opening in the first week of December, feature dry saunas and jacuzzis with sea views, personal spa areas with massage tatamis, wine cellars, and private decks and plunge pools. The Special Emerald Villa Bungalow also includes an in-villa fitness center.

Bid: The silent auction for the PDG villas ends October 31, 2008. For more information, click here. One interesting note: “Cancellations are not accepted and are subject to total loss of payment as proceeds will be donated directly to Instituto Guga Kuerten.”

Book: See room rates (plus, on the landing page, a view from the hotel out to Shanghai) at the Park Hyatt website.

(via UD; screengrabs from each property’s website)

flashback: tennis masters cup, 2004 (houston)



I was looking for old tennis photos online, and I ran into these pictures taken of the nine guys (including the alternate) who descended upon Houston for the Tennis Masters Cup in 2004.

The Argentines: Guillermo Canas and Gaston Gaudio

The boys: Andy Roddick and Guillermo Coria

The daddies (DILFs?): Lleyton Hewitt and Tim Henman

The ILFs: Marat Safin and Carlos Moya

and Roger Federer

Roger beat Lleyton in straight sets — 6-3, 6-2 — to take his 11th title of 2004 and his second consecutive year-end title.

(photos by Getty Images)

kolya wants a tan!!



nikolay davydenko

What a difference a year makes. Here’s a photo of Nikolay Davydenko at the end of 2006 without a care in the world: he’d just gotten married to Irina, he finished the year at number three, and added four singles titles to his trophy case.

Whodathunk that a year later he’d be embroiled in a nasty match-fixing scandal and get unfairly slapped with a fine for tanking? None of this helped Kolya as he compiled a dismal 1-2 record at the 2007 Tennis Masters Cup (losing to Roddick and Federer). But with one of the tanking fines reversed — and a win over Fernando Gonzalez (involving some fine net play) — the Russian seemed to end his 2007 on a high note. Happy, tired, relieved, and not at all disappointed with his Shanghai play.

Here are some other things Kolya shed light on during the interview after his match with Gonzo:

On his commitment to play the Beijing Olympics –happening in the middle of the U.S. Open Series — in light of his announcement of a lighter tourney schedule in 2008. (Even though Kolya’s style of play is easy on his body, his 2007 playing schedule wasn’t):

“You know, tough questions. Yes, because normally you play for the country, for the Russia. Doesn’t matter where is it Olympic Games in Shanghai, Australia. You need to fly. We fly from America, Cincinnati. Try to prepare, try to play very good in China, and then come back to America. It’s pretty tough. Pretty tough flight. But we try the best.”

And on his post-TMC break in the Maldives:

“For me it’s important I try mentally to recovery and, you know, to be a little bit brown. My color changing (smiling). And then, you know, it’s my happy face coming to Davis Cup final.”

We can’t wait to see your tan, Nikolay. And love it while it lasts — something tells me that Portland’s gloom will suck all the color right back out!

FYI: The Davis Cup World Group Final between Russia and the United States will take place in Portland, Ore. from Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2007.

(photo by Getty Images)

the perils of round robin



Humility at the top

For as many perks allowed by reaching the year-end top eight of men’s tennis — the glory, the attention, the serious cash, not to mention those crazy year-ending suits — participating in the Tennis Masters Cup (Shanghai) also has a potential downside: losing multiple matches in a week.

In fact, the round-robin draw makes it so a few players have to lose two matches in the week. There’s even a chance that at least one formerly-confident fellow will take an ego beat-down and lose three. I recall Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003 walking off the court humbled and frustrated after losing his third (and final) match. More recently, Guillermo Coria racked up consecutive 0-3 TMC records — in ’04 and ’05.

This year, thanks to Kolya squeaking out a round-robin win over the spent Gonzo, the 0-fer honor went to Nole Djokovic. If it weren’t for the signs of burnout that Novak had coming into the Masters Cup, he’s about the last player of the octet you’d expect to get served a big slice of that humbling pie.

Novak put up a good fight in each performance — and he had his overzealous stage parents cheering him on — so I’m pretty sure the showman and athlete we got to know this year hasn’t disappeared. Something tells us that after some rest in a place “far, far away from everybody”, he’ll come out alright in ’08.


Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the
Los Angeles Times, and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

trophy watch: all roger, all the time



roger federer - trophy - shanghai 2007

Even with Roger Federer‘s late-2007 hiccup (which saw him lose back-to-back matches for the first time since 2003), the Swiss and World No. 1 came out on top this year.

He beat sixth seed David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to win his fourth Tennis Masters Cup title in five years.

federer - mercedes c-class - shanghai

Another record: Roger collected $1.2 million and a Mercedes-Benz C-Class for the win, putting his 2007 prize money pot at $10 million plus — an ATP record.

roger federer - trophy - shanghai 2007

Earlier in the week, Federer also picked up another trophy by clinching the year-end No. 1 spot for the fourth year in a row.

See a photo of Ferrer (plus doubles winners) after the cut…